Lasers. Hate ’em. Love ’em. Heck, I don’t know.

As a card-carrying sci-fi nut and professional geek, in principle, I loooove lasers, particularly as sabers or guns or any kind of hand weapon.

But as pointers, as in lecture tools, I despise them.

I was at a press event for some new hard drives the other week and the Singaporean guy was using a laser pointer with his Powerpoint presentation, even if he was three feet from the screen and could have used his finger.

I keep wondering why I’m annoyed when someone does this, and I guess it’s the fact that there is no connection between the presenter and the thing he’s pointing to on the screen. Just a bobbing, irritating red dot that you have to work at to keep up with, especially if the guy using the pointer has zero pointing skill. It just zips around the screen erratically like a fly on caffeine, or it shivers and shudders like the guy using it had palsy. Hold it steady, for Pete’s sake!

It would be totally different if the guy used a wood pointer or one of those that look like a long car antenna; you can follow it with some context. I feel it’s one of the worst applications of laser technology ever thought up. If someone were able to create a laser with a persistent and visible beam, like a light saber, now that would truly be something.

But laser pointers in a business presentation context is all right compared to the jerks who bring one to a movie house and point them at the female characters’ nipples. Now that is despicable. There was a time a couple of years ago when you couldn’t watch a movie without some bozo showing off his pointer.

If these pointers had a persistent beam you could trace it back to the culprit and have him beat up, but as it is it could be anyone in the theater. I’m all for affordable technology, but these pointers are so cheap and so common you can pick one up from a sidewalk vendor. They even get sent as Christmas gifts, so any jerk can have one.

I give some presentations now and then (Keynote, not Powerpoint, excuse me), and I wouldn’t be caught dead using one. What I’d love to do is catch one of these theater delinquents, pin him down on the floor with my knee on his neck and shine his pointer right into his retina.

Now how’s that for red eye?